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Research Guides


Good British Stock: Child and Youth Migration to Australia


Young Australia League youth migration

The Young Australia League was not concerned primarily with child or youth migration. However, during the 1920s the League sponsored 192 young British men to Western Australia on lines similar to that of the Big Brother Movement in the eastern states. The Young Australia League was established in 1905 by a dynamic and controversial businessman, J J Simons, who was born in Clare, South Australia in 1882 but moved to Fremantle in his teens. The League was intended to promote 'education through travel'. It developed rapidly as a (mainly) middle-class youth movement – patriotic, non-sectarian, non-political. Girls were admitted, but the main focus was on young men's activities. The League promoted interstate and overseas travel, and acted as a literary and debating society. Theatricals and other social activities were encouraged.

Simons himself had a brief and stormy political career as Labor member for East Perth in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly during the 1920s, but after his defeat turned to journalism and as part of a business syndicate acquired the Sunday Times (Perth) of which he was Managing Director. Other newspapers were purchased and Simons developed a newspaper chain in the state. Meanwhile his Young Australia League peaked with 50 000 members before World War II. Simons died in 1948.

The Young Australia League arranged many and varied activities and youth migration was important to the League only during the later 1920s. The files displayed here reflect these priorities and their main focus is on policy and financial concerns.

CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1930–32
Canberra
Series: A430
Quantity: 4.14 metres
Recorded by: 1930–32: Department of Home Affairs (CA 756)
Visit Young Australia League, 1928–33 A430, G488
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1923–34
Canberra
Series: A458
Quantity: 49.77 metres
Recorded by: 1923–34: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Immigration Encouragement. Young Australia League – Albury Branch, 1925 A458, N154/19
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1934–50
Canberra
Series: A461
Quantity: 143.82 metres
Recorded by: 1934–50: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Young Australia League – After-care, 1931 [7 pages]
The Young Australia League had brought 192 migrant boys to Western Australia and been paid by the WA Government £900 per annum to assist with after-care expenses. With the onset of the Great Depression, the WA Government wanted to end the subsidy, something about which the Prime Minister's Department was unhappy:

His Majesty's Government fears that unless some arrangements are made to finance the YAL, the after-care arrangements made through the League will cease from 30 June 1931.

The WA Premier replied with some vigour that:

The subsidy was first granted to the YAL to form a Boy Settlers Department with the object of placing local lads leaving school in positions in the country. There was little response… the YAL then asked the Government to agree to the introduction of boys from England to be placed in the country… their interests to be watched… advise as necessary… 192 boys arrived… none in the last eighteen months and 22 lads have returned to the UK. Boys have also been introduced under the auspices of the Salvation Army and the Anglican Church Immigration Committee... the YAL has done very good work but we are in a very tight financial corner... the expense is not justified.

The material shows that a compromise was reached in which a grant of £200 was made to the Young Australia League for the next financial year after which there would be a review.

A461, E349/1/1
ADMINISTRATIVE AND GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ROYAL VISIT, 1927
Canberra
Series: A6976
Quantity: 1.0 metres
Recorded by: 1926–27: Federal Capital Commission (CA 226)
Young Australia League, 1926
J J Simons, Hon. Director, Young Australia League, wrote to the Acting Prime Minister Earle Page requesting an invitation for himself and 50 YAL boys to the opening of Federal Parliament the following year. The request was not approved.
A6976, 55
FOLDERS OF COPIES OF CABINET PAPERS, 1976–
Canberra
This series contains copies of Cabinet papers dating back to 1901.
Series: A6006
Quantity: 9.18 metres
Recorded by: 1976–81: Australian Archives, Central Office (CA 1720); 1981–94: Australian Archives, ACT Regional Office (CA 3196)
Claim from Young Australia League for Commonwealth Financial Assistance towards the Visit of a Party of Boys to the British Empire Exhibition, 1923 A6006, 1923/12/7
Young Australia League, 1929 A6006, 1929/02/08
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1903–38
Canberra
Series: A1
Quantity: 337.14 metres
Recorded by: 1916–28: Department of Home and Territories (CA 15); 1928–32: Department of Home Affairs [II] (CA 24); 1932–38: Department of the Interior [I] (CA 27)
Young Australia League – West Australia, 1925–34 A1, 1934/2278
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, WITH 'V' (VICTORIA) PREFIX, 1924–62
Melbourne
Series: B741
Quantity: 29.88 metres
Recorded by: 1927–46: Investigation Branch, Victoria (CA 907)
The Young Australia League, 1931 B741/3, V/8359
CORRESPONDENCE OF GOVERNOR-GENERAL, 1912–27
Canberra
Series: CP78/22
Quantity: 29/98 metres
Recorded by: 1912–27: Governor-General (CA 1)
Young Australia League, 1925–26 CP78/22, 1926/272

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Chapter 3
Guide to the Records